Musician Tu Nokwe at the workshop on Wednesday. Picture: Brenton Geach

Cape Town - One of South Africa’s legendary singing duos gave an inspiring workshop on Wednesday as part of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s 80th birthday celebrations.

Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya, who have earned fame across the world with their songs and their activism, hosted the workshop for local university students at Artscape Theatre Centre.

They spoke to aspiring artists about using their own, authentic voices to tell their stories to the world.

The workshop was part of the Artscape and Mandela Legacy Foundation’s campaign to change Mama Winnie’s perceptions of Cape Town, where her former husband, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned for 27 years, of which 18 were spent on Robben Island.

The campaign also coincided with her official, private celebration held at the Belmond Mount Nelso on Wednesday night.

Her birthday is on September 26.

The events were part of several formal and informal functions throughout the country that will pay tribute to Mama Winnie.

Under the hashtag #WM80Lessons “Our Story, Our Music, Our Legacy”, speakers at the workshop on Wednesday reflected on authenticity and how the influences of the mainstream had influenced artistic voices.

Radio personality Criselda Dudumashe facilitated the workshop, with actress Nomzamo Mbatha and musician Tu Nokwe as guest speakers.

Semenya said he feared the authentic African woman was becoming extinct.

“I don’t know what she is teaching her children if she is spending money to change who she is We were created to have variety,” said Semenya.

He said Madikizela-Mandela was authentic as she was a product of her past and inspired by the great leaders of the past.

“This is something you do not see in many people. She could have been anything she wanted to be, but she chose to sacrifice her entire life for her people,” said Mbulu.

Mbatha said: “We need to keep on telling our stories in an authentic and genuine way.

“I read Ma Winnie’s latest book about women waiting, who have to carry on and are real in the real South Africa.”

She said these were the stories that gave her fire and inspired her.

Famed musician and recent recipient of a Living Legend award, Tu Nokwe, said: “I am influenced by others, but when it comes to my music I breathe and listen.”

Dudumashe said recognition for Madikizela-Mandela was long overdue.

She said Madikizela-Mandela embraced lessons of failure and if we had all done that then South Africa would have been a far better place.

Nelson Mandela’s grandson Zondwa Mandela from the Mandela Legacy described his grandmother as a great grandmother not only to the Mandela family, but to the world.

Cape Times